Posts Tagged With: Wicca

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Spell Casting: The Witches’ Craft

Author: Jason Miller (Inominandum) 

The Greeks made a distinction between theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy literally means “God working” and refers to spiritual work that leads one into illumination or gnosis. Thaumaturgy means, “wonder working” and refers to the conjuration of spirits, casting of spells, blessing, cursing, curing and harming through practical magick. The balance between these two aspects of the craft has been an issue since the emergence of Wicca in the 1950’s. Does spell casting overshadow religion? This debate has been heating up in online groups and blogs recently due to a story on beliefnet.com by Carl McColman entitled Is Wicca Under a Spell, which deals with both sides of the issue. Many people in the Pagan community that I have spoken with feel that magick and sorcery do the religious aspects of Wicca no good and should be downplayed. Some I have spoken to have no interest in spell-casting at all, or perhaps don’t even believe in practical magick, and thus see this aspect of the craft as an obstacle to Wicca taking its place as a major Western religion. I would like to take this opportunity to present the opposing argument.

What often gets overlooked is that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably but Witchcraft is a craft that can be, but isn’t necessarily, part of a religion. Wicca is most definitely a religion. While not all Wiccan traditions stem by lineage from Gerald Gardner, by and large they use a constellation of terms and beliefs that were first put in place by him and those that came after, thus we can say that we can trace Wicca more or less back to him. Witchcraft is a larger area than this. Isaac Bonewits once provided a breakdown of the types of Witches in America, which can help put this into perspective:

10% Neo-Pagan – Revivalist traditions, including Wicca.
70% Neo-Classical – Those who practice folk magick with mixed Christian and Pagan roots without regard to Witchcraft as a religion.
1-2% Classical village healers who practice completely non-religious folk magick.
1-2% Neo-Gothic – Practitioners of Satanism which is based on the Gothic Witchcraft of the Witch Hysteria Era.
1-2% Family Trads.
1-2% Immigrant Traditions: Pow-wow etc.
10% Practitioners of Vodou, Santeria, etc.

For example one of my ancestors was allegedly a “water witch” who told people where to dig wells. While in Venice I was offered a charm to obtain by a Witch. In both of these cases the Witch in question was a devout Christian. According to this breakdown Neo-Paganism and Wicca account for only %10 of American Witches but even within that scope there are many Witchcraft traditions that make it very clear that they are not Wiccan: The Feri Tradition, The Clan of Tubal Cain and the Cultus Sabbati all represent traditions of the craft that have non-Gardnerian roots, and do not fall under the umbrella of Wicca.

I have an enormous respect for Wicca but I am a Witch, not a Wiccan. I object when the terms are used interchangeably and when Wicca attempts to speak for all Witchcraft. I got involved with the craft during the mid 80’s in North Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, Herman Slater’s Magickal Formularies, and the little spell books from Original Publications had much more of an influence on my Witchcraft than Scott Cunningham or Ray Buckland. This is not to say that I am not religious: I am. But I learned to use practical magick at an early age and was successful at it. I have traveled all over the world to learn traditional magickal techniques: from New Orleans, to Europe, to Nepal. Today I do magick professionally and consider traditional techniques of spell-working to be just as important as religious and spiritual traditions.

I would argue spell-casting is just as sacred as Wicca and Neo-Paganism and far more ancient and widespread a tradition. So where McColman asks the question: “As publishers produce more books about casting spells, is the spiritual message of Witchcraft getting lost?” I ask the opposite: Is the popular influence of Wicca and Neo-Paganism negatively impacting the tradition of spell casting, or if you will, the Witches’ Craft?

I think it is, on a number of levels. I will give just three examples:

Ethics:

The Wiccan Rede provides a very strong ethical principle for Witches to follow. As such, any mention of curses, jinxes, or harmful magick is frowned upon by the Pagan press. Some take this even further and extend it to spells that influence another’s will or reverse a curse back upon its sender. Very often in modern books I read “A REAL WITCH would never do harmful or coercive magick…” While I can applaud the good intent of these writers, and understand that authors are trying to paint a picture of Wicca that is acceptable to mainstream America, the fact is that this type of magick IS part of a “REAL” Witch’s repertoire. From the lead curse tablets of Greece, to the Gospel of Aradia, to more modern Witches like Sibyl Leek and Andrew Chumbley, cursing and coercion have always been a part of the Craft.

When my teacher taught me my first pieces of harmful magick, I was surprised. I had no interest in harming anyone but she told me, “You have to learn how to harm, in order to learn how to heal. The power comes hand-in-hand.” Apart from that lesson, life has taught me that a curse can be justified, and that in rare instances it can be down right compassionate. It is the use of knowledge that determines whether it is good or evil, not the knowledge itself.

To my mind allowing Wicca’s religious stance to determine what gets printed about traditional Witchcraft is wrong and pollutes the baraka of an ancient art. For instance Paul Huson’s book Mastering Witchcraft is one of the only early books of the craft that deals with the subject of vengeance and attack, and was given a horrible reputation in the Pagan community because of it. I have been to stores that refused to even carry it. One that did felt the need to put disclaimers all over it stating that it was “Not Real Witchcraft.” The book didn’t endorse vengeance and attack. It merely tried to present the full scope of the art it claimed to teach. In doing so, it put the preceding chapter on counter-magic and protection into great context. If anything, the craft teaches personal responsibility. Why then can we not trust readers to make their own ethical decisions about the craft?

Materia:

In the aforementioned article on beliefnet.com, Gardnerian Priestess Judy Harrow, author of Spiritual Mentoring, was quoted as saying:

“I remember once a man solemnly informing me that if a spell calls for, say, blue candles, and the candles are white candles dipped in blue instead of being blue all the way through, the spell will fail or maybe even backfire… People who believe that (magic) power is in ‘the stuff’ will not be able to access the power if ‘the stuff’ is not handy.”

A proficient Witch learns to substitute items that can’t be gotten in time. We also learn the magics of breath, gaze, gesture and incantation that can be cast without materials of any type whatsoever. While I agree that not all the power is in “the stuff, ” there certainly is quite a bit more than many modern writers would have you think. Many modern books make the case that “it’s all in your mind” and that the materials are just props with no real power of their own. This to me is disrespectful to the Witches and sorcerers that painstakingly wrote down formularies and philtres over the centuries. If this was really the case, why bother getting the ingredients right at all? Why not just write down “Devils Shoe Strings” on nine pieces of paper and use them instead of the herb? Try it and see what kind of results you get. Having lived in Nepal and worked with various Ngakpas (sorcerers) and Jankris (shaman) , I can tell you that they take their ingredients very seriously. I can say the same about the Bokors and Root Doctors of New Orleans.

Flying ointment made from mugwort in a carrier oil may be safer, but it is not just as good as one made from hemlock, belladonna, and other baneful herbs carefully mixed and applied. A stone with a hole drilled in it will not work as well as a real hagstone formed by running water. A twig from the backyard will not provide as good a basis for an influence charm as a whole High John root. These things have a tradition that goes back hundred of years and should not be cast aside so easily.

Psychological Reductionism:

Australian sociologist Douglas Ezzy was quoted in the beliefnet.com article regarding the effect of spells themselves:

“In his paper ‘New Age Witchcraft? Popular spell books and the re-enchantment of everyday life, ’ Ezzy notes that spell books ‘encourage individuals to take control of their lives through self-exploration and self-affirmation.’ Furthermore, ‘performing magical spells functions as a way of re-discovering the enchanted and mysterious aspects of life.’”

McColman further interprets this:

“In other words, spells are more than just magical recipes for getting your own way; they are miniature rituals designed to foster a sense of mystery and wonder (what Ezzy calls ‘enchantment’) in everyday life, and to evoke a positive sense of power and hope in the spell-caster’s life. Even if casting a spell doesn’t make you rich or win you love, it could give you hope that such blessings really are possible in your life.”

There are many Pagans and Wiccans that have no interest, belief in, or talent for spell-casting. That’s okay. I don’t believe that Witchcraft was ever meant to be a widespread practice. It may be elitist of me to suggest it, but I don’t think that everyone can cast an effective spell. Some can, some can’t. What we have today however are people drawn to the purely religious and spiritual aspects of Neo-Paganism and mistaking it for Witchcraft. They need to find a way to explain the place of spell-casting in a modern world, so its gets explained away in psycho-babble.

Many teachers today will explain that spells don’t actually offer outer change, only inner change. A spell to help you get a job will perhaps build your confidence but not affect the mind of the interviewer. The claim is that the magick is providing mystery, wonder, and self-affirmation. These are all good things, but it is clear that Witches throughout history did not feel this way about their craft, and neither do I!

I and many others know from experience that a well placed and executed spell can alter future events, affect the mind and spirit of a target or a client, and generally deliver the goods that are traditionally attributed to the craft. The effectiveness of this depends on the ability of the practitioner, knowledge of the art, and skillful application of that power and knowledge. Some people have a talent for practical magic. Some do not. Not so long ago, if you didn’t have a gift or calling for Witchcraft, you would not have been drawn to it. Now that it has become a popular subculture and religion, I wonder if people that don’t have much talent for spell work feel the need to write it off? To be clear I don’t think that you need to practice spellcraft to be a Pagan, or even a Wiccan, but that doesn’t mean we should reduce the classical art of Witchcraft to therapeutic drama.

McColman quotes writer Laura LaVoie as saying: “One of my fears with the spell books is that they send the wrong message to those looking for answers on how to be Pagan.” I have heard her fear echoed often in the Pagan community but very few consider the other side of the coin: Neo-Pagans can sometimes send the wrong message to those that just want to practice Witchcraft.

It’s pretty easy to tell whether a book is religious or is a collection of spells. I find it difficult to believe that someone looking to get a start in a new religion would pick up an Encyclopedia of Spells. On the other hand I do know of many people who came to a spiritual path, Wiccan or otherwise, through a desire to cast spells that opened up deeper questions.

I have what I consider to be a very rigorous and serious spiritual practice. I also am a professional Occultist who does readings and magick for pay. If Wicca doesn’t want to be confused with spell-casting, then they should stop using the term Witchcraft and Wicca interchangeably. Wicca represents one tradition of Witchcraft, not the whole practice.

There is room for both spells and Spirit. Keep the spell books coming! Keep the Pagan books coming! Keep the Wiccan books coming! Let them all get better researched and lead people deeper into the mysteries, from whatever angle of approach they choose.

May the Blessing, Cursing, and Cunning Be!

______________________________________________-

Footnotes:
McColman, Carl, Is Wicca Under A Spell?”, beliefnet.com, 2005.

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Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

By

Question: Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

I’m interested in Wicca, but my mom says Wiccans and Pagans don’t believe in God. I feel weird not believing in a universal force of some sort. What’s the deal here?

Answer: The deal is that most Wiccans and Pagans see “god” as more of a job title than a proper name. They don’t worship the Christian god, but that doesn’t mean they don’t accept the existence of deity. Various Wiccan and Pagan traditions honor different gods. Some see all deities as one, and may refer to The God or The Goddess. Others may worship specific gods or goddesses – Cernunnos, Brighid, Isis, Apollo, etc. – from their own tradition. Because there are so many different forms of Pagan belief, there are nearly as many gods and goddesses to believe in.

Many Pagans, including but not limited to Wiccans, are willing to accept the presence of the Divine in all things. Because Wicca and Paganism place a good deal of emphasis on the idea that experiencing the divine is something for everyone, not just select members of the clergy, it’s possible for a Wiccan or Pagan to find something sacred within the mundane. For example, the whisper of wind through the trees or the roar of the ocean can both be considered divine. Not only that, many Pagans feel that the divine lives within each of us. It’s rare to find a Pagan or Wiccan who sees the gods as judgmental or punishing. Instead, most view the gods as beings that are meant to be walked beside, hand in hand, and honored.

Another aspect of this that’s important to keep in mind is that not everyone who is a Pagan happens to be Wiccan. There are many other paths of Paganism, many of which are polytheistic. Some Pagan paths are based on a concept that all gods are one. There are also some Pagans who follow an earth- or nature-based belief system outside of the concept of deity completely.

 

Source:

About.com

 

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The Happy Side of Magick

The Happy Side of Magick

Author: Poppaea Holmes 

I have never really used many spells or chants, and when I have it is often at a time when I feel I can do nothing else… one of those ‘may as well try it’ approaches. I understand the mechanics of spell casting, how it works and how the desired effect is achieved, the problem I find with it though is that I was brought up with fairy tales and stories about Witches who cast elaborate spells with confounding results, and I find because of this upbringing that spell casting is intrinsically linked, in my mind, to fanatical stories and make believe lands.

I say this only to give you, as a reader, some sense of understanding how much effort had already been applied before I decided to cast a love spell. It was not a compulsion spell, merely creating a cosmic attraction field. I do understand that there are differing views on the appropriate use of love spells, of any kind, ranging from never-to-be-used to ‘use all the time, everyday!’ However I am not writing to discuss the pros and cons of casting a love spell, nor even, to some extent, the morals that must be thought through before one is cast, I am simply writing to explain and inform how mine worked, and how I would recommend it to anyone in the same situation, or any situation.

As previously stated, I was in pretty dire straits when I preformed this spell, (I know some would not consider that an appropriate term for being out of love, which some deem as a trivial matter. I believe it is a very apt description.) and as such, was not expecting any results. At the time, I had become rather disenchanted with Wicca. I cannot pinpoint exactly why as no major life events had occurred to make me believe that the Goddess was absent. It was more just a lack of connection, which is probably part of the reason I believed the spell would fail.

It was one of those long term/ three months spells, which meant that I wasn’t too fussed when nothing appeared after a few weeks. So I promptly forgot about the spell due to an influx in collage coursework and activities, and was asked on a date. To me this had never happened, and so I was, understandably I believe, rather surprised. He asked me over text, which I later found out his friend had actually composed, and we met up six days later.

I have to admit I had no idea who he was. Even after finding him on Facebook, I had difficulty in pinning him as the guy who was in my quiz team, Never the less, we started talking, and despite his apparent obsession with football and The Killers (who are a fine band, just not my style) , I agreed to a second date, and a third, and so on.

Now it was around the fifth date that I remembered about the spell I had cast, mainly by finding it whilst looking through my Wicca box. I didn’t connect the spell with my newfound boyfriend as I was having what I believe to be a bit of a slow day. I had become captivated with Wicca once again mere weeks after casting the aforementioned love spell. I proceeded to look through the ‘requirements’ for the person I wished to meet and found, to my surprise, that my recently obtained boyfriend met every criteria… and not in a vague ‘well I suppose’ sense, more in a height/weight/age/exact personality sense! I was literally speechless. I think I should mention now that the spell cast was for a soul-mate (I know, I just jump right in to it!) not just general love. I can say now, with our year anniversary just gone, that it has definitely worked.

I know some of you may be sitting there scoffing at my perhaps pitiful year long relationship, but to me, it is a success… especially considering that for the last three months he has been away at Canterbury, which is a good five hour train journey from where I live, making the relationship harder.

I didn’t really put off telling my boyfriend about my religion, more it just never actively came up. He informed me from the start that he was ‘devout’ atheist, and indeed some of our more interesting conversations have been on the concepts of souls and deities. However, I believe him knowing my religion made our relationship better. But I would not recommend the way in which he found out.

I am afraid I am going to diverge slightly, and I apologize if any view it as an unwanted interruption. I feel that what occurred was a breach of trust, and really just a show of a lack of morality in some people. My boyfriend found out about my religion through one of his friends, who happened to be a sergeant at the cadets I attended and a devout Christian. “At cadets”, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the dress code, we were allowed to wear necklaces as long as they were hidden and for religious purposes.

I wore a plain silver pentagram at the time, and the chain occasionally showed, causing questions at least once a week. Usually I could just say it is a religious necklace (as trying to explain it to people who aren’t listening and are just desperate to be told you summon the devil is tedious) . However this time he walked a little way, turned as though an afterthought and asked “Yeah, what religion?” I answered, “I’m Wiccan” and we carried on our separate ways.

I thought nothing of this until I got a call from my boyfriend asking if I was a Witch. I was a bit bemused by how he had come to that conclusion, as, like spell casting, the word brings to mind Grimm’s fairy tale type characters and so I do not use the word. I answered that no, I wasn’t a Witch but I was Wiccan… and how did he come to hear of this information? It transpired that at the first possible chance this Christian friend, who I still believe had gained this information in an environment that did not warrant outside gossiping, had run to him at the first chance and said “Do you know your girlfriend is Wiccan?” We both believe it was to try and drive a wedge between us for reasons only known to him. Anyhow, this rant is almost over, and I shall end it and resume back to my original purpose by saying that I believe it was extremely ill-mannered and uncouth to divulge this information. I have always been raised to not speak of other religions or beliefs unless with express permission or belief that the knowledge would be useful in some way and that the person to whom is being referred does not mind.

I suppose what I am trying to get across with this article, is that magick does work. If you believe in something and you are prepared to go that little extra, it will change your life in wondrous awe-inspiring ways. I think it cannot be expressed better than through love of something else. I suppose it is also partially about dis-enchantment of Wicca (which I overcame by a sudden realization that I was still actively talking to the Goddess when I got really stressed) .

I am not trying to actively express feelings either for or against love spells, as I believe that, as with all magick, it depends entirely on the intentions of the caster. But I know that even in dark and desperate moments, magick and belief and everything joyous in Paganism can just seep in, lift you up and make everything just a little bit better.

Thank you for reading this article. I hoped you got some enjoyment, or really anything, from it, and to feel free to email me if you wish.

Blessed be
Poppy

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Wicca & Witchcraft – The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide

WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT
————————————
The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide
Steven S. Sadleir

Wicca, or Witchcraft is the old religion of Europe, which apparently evolved from Druidism.  Wiccan is generally a term applied to a “Wise One” or “Magician”, and Wicca is the practice of “magic”, which is the application and utilization of natural laws.  As Witchcraft competed as a religion with Christianity (the ‘new’ religion) in the Christianized Western World, witchcraft became repressed as a form of paganism (i.e., a Primative Teaching) and was given an evil stigma, and therefore was not practiced openly.  However, with the repeal of the English Witchcraft Act in 1951, many covens, or congregations, have opened up to the public and many new groups have formed. There are now dozens of Wiccan orgnaizations in the United States and Europe, with perhaps, thousands of active Wiccans and Witches.  Most witches practicing the craft publicly are considered ‘white’ witches, that is, they yse their knowledge for good ends and practice the Wiccan Creed: “Ye hurt none, do as ye will.”  Black Witches (which has recieved most of the notoriety, but are considered a minority) are generally not visible to the public and use thier knowledge for selfish or evil means.  Satanism is NOT considered a form of witchcraft, but was created by people who believe there is a Satan, or Devil.

Wicca/Witchcraft generally involves some form of God or Goddess worship, and many involve the workings of spiritual guides as well.  Wicca/Witchcraft is a very individualized religion, and each person chooses his or her own deities to worship.  Generally, the supreme being is considered ‘genderless’ and is comprised of many aspects that may be identified as masculine or feminine in
nature, and thus a God or Goddess.  Originally, the horned God of hunting represented the maculine facet of the deity, whereas the female qualities were represented in the fertility Goddess.  The Gods and Goddesses from the personalities of the supreme being, and are a reflection of the attributes that worshippers seek to emulate.  Wiccans may draw upon the ancient civilizations of the Druids, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, or other polytheistic cultures to commune with the particular aspect of the deity that they identify with.  Some favorite gods include Osiris, Pan, Cennunnos, and Bacchus.  Facotie Goddesses include Isis, Caridwen, Rhea, Selene, and Diana.

Wiccans generally observe the four greater Sabbaths of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Laghnasadh; and the lesser Sabbaths – the Spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices.  There celebrations are typically free-spirited, and are sometimes held ‘skyclad’ (naked) or in various styles of robes.  Other services include handfasting (marriage), handparting (divorce) and wiccaning (birth rite).  Regular meetings, called Esbats are also held, at which magic and healing are performed.  Wiccans/witches meet in small groups (up to twelve) called a coven, whcih typically join with other covens to form a ‘Grove’.

Rituals are typically held outside and consist of forma a circle and erecting the temple (consecrating the circle); invoking, praising, and soliciting assistance from gods, goddesses, and elementals; observing the change of season and energies represented by the various seasons; singing; dancing; ‘cakes and ale’ (sharing of bread and wine); and clearing the temple. Personal practive includes meditation and prayer, divination, development of personal will and psychic abilities through spells and various forms of healing.  Most Wiccans/witches have altars where they burn candles and incense and practice their rites.  To perform thier rites, other tools of the craft are used, such as an athame, yag-disk or, seaux (a handmade and consecrated knife), a sword, a wand, and sometimes special jewelry, amulets or talismans (magically empowered objects).  Sometimes these objects are inscribed with magical writings. Joining a coven or grove typically involves an initiation, which is stylized by each individual group, but generally involves the confirmation that the initiate understands the principals and an oath of secrecy.

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The Craft Today

The Craft Today

 

As the world moved into the 60s and 70s, two things started happening to Wicca. The first is that it began spreading beyond the borders of England. This is not to say that American Witches did not exist before the 70s, but the Wiccan movement did start in England and it wasn’t until later that a Witchcraft boom started in America. The second thing that happened is that people started becoming Wiccan without joining covens. They became Solitaries, people who practiced alone.

The Solitary movement began out of necessity. People read the books of Murray, Gardner and others such as Alexander and Crowley and wanted to become Wiccan but were unable to find other around them who felt the same. Realizing that what mattered was their beliefs, these people adopted the Wiccan religion anyway, waiting until a coven became available to them.

After these people started practicing alone, people realized that one shouldn’t feel obligated to practice in a coven. Some people preferred to practice alone and began to do so even when a coven was available to them. This is when the Solitary movement really started, when people began forming their own personal versions of Wiccan spirituality.

An explosion of knowledge occurred after the beginning of the Solitary movement and books about Solitary Wicca hit presses everywhere. Many authors such as Silver RavenWolf, Laurie Cabot, The Campienellis and especially Scott Cunningham and his Wicca… A Guide for the Solitary Practioner, are considered teachers or mentors by people who have never even met them.

The Solitary movement changed the way that Wicca was practiced. If you compare my generation of Witches to the generation before me, you will find that Wiccans my age are far less likely to be involved with a coven, they focus less on the fertility aspect of the religion and more on ecology and they are more theological and less ritual-oriented. It has become a more welcoming, intellectual, morality-based religion and a less exclusive, physical religion. There are many different kinds of Wiccans as a result of these changes, there are still traditionalist Gardnerians and Alexandrians (who, from time to time, tell a Solitary or two that they’re not “real witches”), Dianic Wiccans (who often do not acknowledge the existence of the god and are very feminist-oriented), Wiccans who heavily incorporate Native American beliefs into their spirituality, Celtic Wiccans, “Ecclectic” Solitaries (Solitaries are often called this because we each design our own faith, drawing on many others for ideas), and even Christian Witches–people who believe in Jesus Christ’s divinity but who also revere nature and practice magic. We are very diverse, but we also enjoy a very warm fellowship.

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

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The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

The Changing Role of Men in Wicca

Author:   Morgan Ravenwood 

It is unfortunate but too often true that male Wiccans find themselves relegated to a passive, almost non-existent role in Wicca and many other Pagan traditions, thereby depriving their female counterparts of some potentially useful interaction, observations and teachings.

While many Wiccan women would defend this stance by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths are male-centered and that they came to Paganism to avoid being forced to submit to male authority, they fail to realize that any faith that places emphasis on one gender over another is simply out of balance and deprives its members of both spiritual satisfaction and education.

We Wiccans must remember that it was a man, Gerald Gardiner, who originally gave birth and identity to the faith we practice today. However, he didn’t do so all by himself—he a lot of help and encouragement from women such as Doreen Valiente. Perhaps that is why the Gardnerian tradition has always promoted gender equality. Since then there have been some notable male Pagans such as Stuart Farrar, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, and more recently, Kerr Cuhulain and Christopher Penczak (who has written a great deal about gay Wiccans, whose numbers continue to grow) whose knowledge and experience have benefited us all.

A quick overview of some of the major Wiccan traditions certainly doesn’t inspire a man to want to join most of them unless he is willing to play a subordinate—and submissive- –role. While ones such as the various Druid groups and the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions seem to be more welcoming to the male practitioner, others such as the Dianic and Avalonian traditions are strictly matrifocal with no male participation at all. There are endless lists of Wiccan female-only groups on the web as opposed to barely a handful for men. All of this amounts to the same kind of sexism practiced by the mainstream religions, and is just as counter-productive.

We are all familiar with the concept of the Triple Goddess, which is of course worshiped by male and female Wiccans alike. While most female Wiccans relate the phases of the Goddess to our own lives, how do we apply this to the God, and in so doing, contemplate how this concept can be applied to men?

In my long years of study and correspondence with other practitioners, I have learned quite a bit from some very wise male Pagans. I recently asked some of them their opinions on this, and actually got some pretty similar answers, though one male friend said, “I hadn’t really ever thought about it!”

I can’t help but feeling that that is a very great shame indeed.

Equal gender identification really isn’t that difficult when you think about it. When we see the young Goddess as the Maiden, we could see her male counterpart as the Youth/Warrior/Student. As She reaches Her Mother stage, Her consort matures into the Father/Warrior/Hunter.

Opinions vary on when a woman has aged sufficiently to regard herself (and be regarded by others) as a “Crone, ” but on the other side of the coin, we again have her consort becoming an Elder/Sage/Grandfather. Though male Wiccans revere and venerate the Goddess in these various incarnations, might they not feel a little more comfortable if the God was given equal consideration?

Those female Wiccans who may belong to covens who worship the Goddess to the exclusion of the God might feel a little more in balance also.

When we look at the history of Paganism we find a large number of male deities such as Cernunnos, Dagda, Lugh, Cuchulainn, Pan, Osiris, Zeus, Apollo, and so many more. In ritual, particularly when petitioning for a special purpose, it is wise to aim such petitions towards a deity who may have certain characteristics particular to the object of the petition.

Male Wiccans especially may have certain issues that they feel more comfortable sharing with a male deity as opposed to a female one. That doesn’t mean, however, that they would (or should) eliminate worship of the Goddess in Her many forms—on the contrary, the male Wiccans of my acquaintance are very devoted to Her.

As in everything, balance and moderation are the keys.

We need look no further than our own Wheel of the Year to understand how important the God is to our religion. From Yule, when we celebrate the birth of the God, to Samhain, when He dies and prepares to be born yet again at Yule, our Sabbats are ironically centered on the God, with the Goddess both assisting and participating in a supporting (but no less important) role.

Consequently, it seems illogical and counter-productive to relegate the God along with male practitioners to a minor role in other Wiccan rites. While I am certainly not advocating the dissolution of all female-only covens, I DO encourage them to give some serious consideration to allowing serious male practitioners to participate in their rites. This would present many opportunities for fellowship and the sharing of knowledge, which would surely outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

The Religioustolerance.org website contains Edain McCoy’s description of the worship of Wiccan deities thusly: “We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” And yet, the same article also says, “Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature.

For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males. A priestess is often the most senior person among covens — a local group of Wiccans. They aim for a female-male balance in most of their covens (local groups), although men are typically in the minority.”

The last sentence really reinforces the imbalance that exists in Wiccan practice and brings up a salient point: perhaps if more men chose to become involved in Wicca, it would drive up the numbers of Wiccan adherents and consequently make us more of a force to be reckoned with. The days of “broom closet” Wicca are coming to a close and we are already seeing the benefits such as the V.A. approval of the pentacle on the headstones of Wiccan veterans.

However, we must keep in mind that in order for more men to become interested in Wicca, they must be allowed equal consideration and status.

It’s a concept whose time has come.

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The Happy Side of Magick

The Happy Side of Magick

Author:   Poppaea Holmes 

I have never really used many spells or chants, and when I have it is often at a time when I feel I can do nothing else… one of those ‘may as well try it’ approaches. I understand the mechanics of spell casting, how it works and how the desired effect is achieved, the problem I find with it though is that I was brought up with fairy tales and stories about Witches who cast elaborate spells with confounding results, and I find because of this upbringing that spell casting is intrinsically linked, in my mind, to fanatical stories and make believe lands.

I say this only to give you, as a reader, some sense of understanding how much effort had already been applied before I decided to cast a love spell. It was not a compulsion spell, merely creating a cosmic attraction field. I do understand that there are differing views on the appropriate use of love spells, of any kind, ranging from never-to-be-used to ‘use all the time, everyday!’ However I am not writing to discuss the pros and cons of casting a love spell, nor even, to some extent, the morals that must be thought through before one is cast, I am simply writing to explain and inform how mine worked, and how I would recommend it to anyone in the same situation, or any situation.

As previously stated, I was in pretty dire straits when I preformed this spell, (I know some would not consider that an appropriate term for being out of love, which some deem as a trivial matter. I believe it is a very apt description.) and as such, was not expecting any results. At the time, I had become rather disenchanted with Wicca. I cannot pinpoint exactly why as no major life events had occurred to make me believe that the Goddess was absent. It was more just a lack of connection, which is probably part of the reason I believed the spell would fail.

It was one of those long term/ three months spells, which meant that I wasn’t too fussed when nothing appeared after a few weeks. So I promptly forgot about the spell due to an influx in collage coursework and activities, and was asked on a date. To me this had never happened, and so I was, understandably I believe, rather surprised. He asked me over text, which I later found out his friend had actually composed, and we met up six days later.

I have to admit I had no idea who he was. Even after finding him on Facebook, I had difficulty in pinning him as the guy who was in my quiz team, Never the less, we started talking, and despite his apparent obsession with football and The Killers (who are a fine band, just not my style) , I agreed to a second date, and a third, and so on.

Now it was around the fifth date that I remembered about the spell I had cast, mainly by finding it whilst looking through my Wicca box. I didn’t connect the spell with my newfound boyfriend as I was having what I believe to be a bit of a slow day. I had become captivated with Wicca once again mere weeks after casting the aforementioned love spell. I proceeded to look through the ‘requirements’ for the person I wished to meet and found, to my surprise, that my recently obtained boyfriend met every criteria… and not in a vague ‘well I suppose’ sense, more in a height/weight/age/exact personality sense! I was literally speechless. I think I should mention now that the spell cast was for a soul-mate (I know, I just jump right in to it!) not just general love. I can say now, with our year anniversary just gone, that it has definitely worked.

I know some of you may be sitting there scoffing at my perhaps pitiful year long relationship, but to me, it is a success… especially considering that for the last three months he has been away at Canterbury, which is a good five hour train journey from where I live, making the relationship harder.

I didn’t really put off telling my boyfriend about my religion, more it just never actively came up. He informed me from the start that he was ‘devout’ atheist, and indeed some of our more interesting conversations have been on the concepts of souls and deities. However, I believe him knowing my religion made our relationship better. But I would not recommend the way in which he found out.

I am afraid I am going to diverge slightly, and I apologize if any view it as an unwanted interruption. I feel that what occurred was a breach of trust, and really just a show of a lack of morality in some people. My boyfriend found out about my religion through one of his friends, who happened to be a sergeant at the cadets I attended and a devout Christian. “At cadets”, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the dress code, we were allowed to wear necklaces as long as they were hidden and for religious purposes.

I wore a plain silver pentagram at the time, and the chain occasionally showed, causing questions at least once a week. Usually I could just say it is a religious necklace (as trying to explain it to people who aren’t listening and are just desperate to be told you summon the devil is tedious) . However this time he walked a little way, turned as though an afterthought and asked “Yeah, what religion?” I answered, “I’m Wiccan” and we carried on our separate ways.

I thought nothing of this until I got a call from my boyfriend asking if I was a Witch. I was a bit bemused by how he had come to that conclusion, as, like spell casting, the word brings to mind Grimm’s fairy tale type characters and so I do not use the word. I answered that no, I wasn’t a Witch but I was Wiccan… and how did he come to hear of this information? It transpired that at the first possible chance this Christian friend, who I still believe had gained this information in an environment that did not warrant outside gossiping, had run to him at the first chance and said “Do you know your girlfriend is Wiccan?” We both believe it was to try and drive a wedge between us for reasons only known to him. Anyhow, this rant is almost over, and I shall end it and resume back to my original purpose by saying that I believe it was extremely ill-mannered and uncouth to divulge this information. I have always been raised to not speak of other religions or beliefs unless with express permission or belief that the knowledge would be useful in some way and that the person to whom is being referred does not mind.

I suppose what I am trying to get across with this article, is that magick does work. If you believe in something and you are prepared to go that little extra, it will change your life in wondrous awe-inspiring ways. I think it cannot be expressed better than through love of something else. I suppose it is also partially about dis-enchantment of Wicca (which I overcame by a sudden realization that I was still actively talking to the Goddess when I got really stressed) .

I am not trying to actively express feelings either for or against love spells, as I believe that, as with all magick, it depends entirely on the intentions of the caster. But I know that even in dark and desperate moments, magick and belief and everything joyous in Paganism can just seep in, lift you up and make everything just a little bit better.

Thank you for reading this article. I hoped you got some enjoyment, or really anything, from it, and to feel free to email me if you wish.

Blessed be
Poppy

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How Witchcraft Works – Wicca

How Witchcraft Works

by

Wicca

Wicca, a modern Pagan religion that worships the Earth and nature, was established in the 1940s and ’50s by Gerald Gardner. Gardner defined witchcraft as a positive and life-affirming religion. The central Wiccan theme is, “if it does no harm, do your own will.” Gardner also ascribed to this definition many witchcraft practices and skills that had existed for centuries and been part of many different religions and cultures. These practices included such things as divination (foreknowledge), herblore, magic and psychic abilities. Modern witchcraft in Britain, Europe, North America and Australia all evolved based on the Gardnerian definition and belief system.

No Devil

Wicca has no belief in a Devil and does not subscribe to the Christian idea of Hell, so the idea that modern witches worship the devil is nonsense. There are many conflicting definitions of “Wicca” and “witch,” and even modern-day witches don’t all agree on how to define themselves and their religion. Most, however, call themselves witches and their religion Wicca. There are actually several Wiccan traditions now that have varying beliefs, all loosely based on the Gardnerian ideals. Most of what we cover in this article is based on the Gardnerian tradition.

Magickal Energy

The Wiccan belief is that when witches become one with the deities through rituals, they become in tune with the overall life force or cosmic energy. This allows the witch to somewhat control that energy (meaning the energy from themselves and their environment) and direct it for “personal” change through magick.

The theory follows the scientific concept that all matter vibrates with its own energy. The speed of that vibration is dictated by the movement of the molecules that make up the object. Whether the object is solid or not is also determined by the movement of the molecules. According to the book “Spellworks for Covens,” energy from the witch’s body also has a vibration — both a physical rate of vibration and a spiritual rate of vibration. During power-raising rituals, witches believe that the molecules from both their physical and spiritual sides meld together to increase their overall energy and create a pathway for energy to flow through them. In order not to deplete their own personal energy stores, they can also pull energy from the Earth and sky.

 

Source:

howstuffworks

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